tragedy

long roadToday’s post is perhaps in part a rambling stream of consciousness.  Truthfully, I am not sure where this post will go as I start to write. This post began writing itself in my head a few hours ago.

A tragedy in Wayne has made me think of someone I had not thought of in a few years.

What tragedy am I speaking of? The man in Wayne who shot his wife on Sunday afternoon with one of their children in the house.  Then the man took his own life.

Coward.

Main Line Media News: Update: Husband, wife identified in Wayne murder-suicide

Published: Monday, January 13, 2014

By Pete Bannan,
Pbannan@Mainlinemedianews.com

Radnor police are working with family members to help care for the children after an apparent murder suicide that took place on 300 block of South Wayne Avenue in Radnor shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.

Radnor police were called to the home for the report of shots fired. Two people, Tim Rooney, 49, and Linda Rooney, 48, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a pool house at the rear of the property, according to police.

“It appears to be a domestic situation,” said Radnor Police Supt. William Colarulo.

An 8-year-old was in the main house at the time of the shooting. The couple had two other children, a 15-year-old who is in a boarding school out of state and a 17-year-old daughter.

Their names were Tim and Linda Rooney.  I did not know them.  From what I am reading she was some kind of high level executive with a pharmaceutical company.  

Linda was also a mother of three children, two teenagers, and one child who is considerably younger.  Now these poor kids are orphans and tainted by a tragedy not of their making which is so unfair.

From what Radnor Patch was reporting, Linda Rooney may have not only feared her husband, but apparently the marriage may have been in trouble.

Wayne Murder Victim May Have Feared Husband, Police Say

Posted by   Sam Strike  (Editor) , January 13, 2014 at 06:51 PM

rooneyAs the Radnor Township community grapples with a shocking murder-suicide that took place in a Wayne home on Sunday, Radnor Patch has received comments ranging from concern for the victim’s children to the shock of knowing that a firearm was within blocks of their own children and many at Radnor Middle School.

While Radnor Police have not yet revealed a motive in the killing, they have said that they believe that Timothy Rooney, 49, shot to death his 48-year-old wife, Linda, in the pool house of their home and then shot himself….based on documents that police found it appears the marriage “was in trouble” and that Linda “may have been fearful” of her husband.

I noticed that some people were hard on Radnor Patch Editor Sam Strike for in essence, doing her job and reporting this.  This shows up in comments underneath the story when the news broke, but victims had not yet been identified. It is horrible news, but she did not sensationalize it. She stated what the Radnor Police had reported to the media in general. I know Sam, so this bothers me.  She is not deserving of being castigated for doing her job.  It was also all over the media like lightening.

Murder-Suicide in Pa. Suburbs

By  Wire Reports and  NBC10.com Staff                                  
|  Monday, Jan 13, 2014  |  Updated 3:42 PM EST

tragedyA man shot and killed his wife then shot himself Sunday afternoon, according to Radnor Police.

The incident happened in the guest house of a property at 319 S. Wayne Ave. in Wayne. The victims are identified as 49-year-old Timothy Rooney and his 48-year-old wife Linda Rooney. One of the couple’s three children, an 8-year-old boy, was in a bedroom of the main home.

Police say there were signs of struggle and that a note was left at the scene….The couple’s 17 year-old daughter came home to be with her younger brother. Another sibling is away at boarding school. Police are seeking to make contact with her.

The family, who is originally from Texas, moved to Radnor about a year ago, according to authorities.

This is all so senseless and tragic.  It will undoubtedly get weighed down by another debate on gun control.  I hope not.  It is a weighty issue, but three children just became orphans. And like many other weighty issues in this country it is polarized by politics back and forth on both sides of the issue.

What is rattling around in my brain is a similar crime the spring of 2000.  A woman I knew (and went to Shipley with) was shot by her ex-husband.  And then he turned the gun on himself.

His name was Mark Biddle.  Hers was Melinda Clothier Biddle.  She was a neighbor of mine.  I came home one day for lunch to find my neighborhood in lockdown, with police and media all over the place; helicopters swarming. The press had a field day because of the old Philadelphia names involved…likened it to High Society run amok.

A Violent End For Two With Notable Names Mark Hampton Biddle Fatally Shot His Ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, At Her Main Line Home. Then He Killed Himself.

By Patrick Kerkstra, Erin Carroll and Chani Katzen, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF

Posted: June 01, 2000

A divorced couple from the Main Line, members of two of the most prominent families in Philadelphia’s long history, died yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide at the woman’s home in Haverford.

Mark Hampton Biddle, 49, a lawyer whose ancestors include leading financiers and statesmen from the time of the American Revolution, shot his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, shortly after 10:30 a.m. at their former family home in the 400 block of West Montgomery Avenue, police said. He then shot himself in the head.

Melinda Biddle, 41, a therapist, was a great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Clothier, one of the founders of Strawbridge & Clothier. The couple had three children.

The pair finalized their divorce in February, according to court records. Mark Biddle recently remarried and moved to St. Davids after selling a large property on Lancaster Avenue where he had lived for about a year.

Mark Biddle was an angry man that Melinda finally divorced.  And it took a long time for her to get to her divorce.  It was very difficult for her to do this. But before she died, she was finally happy. She was blooming. She loved her children, her garden, a career, her friends and neighbors. I remembered seeing her out with some of her female friends from the neighborhood and elsewhere and I was so happy to see how she how happy she was and excited about life again.

A Murder-suicide Leaves Family And Police At A Loss. Questions Abound In Shootings  

By Ralph Vigoda and Patrick Kerkstra, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Posted: June 04, 2000

As he did many mornings, Mark Hampton Biddle started Wednesday with a prayer for his new wife, Veruschka, in the bedroom of their Chester County home. The couple, married 31/2 months, then prayed together – another morning ritual – before getting themselves and the children ready for the day…..What Mark Biddle did less than two hours later, police say, was confront his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, in the back of the Haverford house they had once shared. He shot her twice, then – seconds later – shot himself in the head, his body crumpling in the driveway.

And then, one Wednesday morning, Mark Biddle parked his car literally across the street from my then driveway and accessed his ex-wife’s home via the R-5 Septa train tracks. He used the train tracks as a path.  He shot his former wife and then himself.  That darn car sat there for days.  I remember I finally called his old law practice and begged them to get someone, anyone to remove that car from our neighborhood.

What is wrong with this country?  Clearly, Mark Biddle was never someone who should have had access to guns anymore than this Tim Rooney. Yet he did.

My one comment on this debate which wages over guns in our country is why there has to be more control over exactly who is allowed to literally bear arms.  No one wants to interfere with an American’s inalienable rights, but part of this process should be a clean bill of mental health. And that should be something that should be periodically revisited as long as an individual owns guns. People kill.  Guns can’t just do it on their own as inanimate objects.

So as I first heard the news reports of this tragedy in Wayne, I was instantly transported back 14 years to the sounds of helicopters swarming like we were on the set of M.A.S.H or something.  I remember the chaos well because this is where I lived, and Melinda was my neighbor.  I have not thought of her in a few years.  Until this happened in Wayne.

I can only imagine how everyone in Wayne feels, and these were people that everyone was undoubtedly just getting to know because the family had only moved into the area within the past couple of years.

Human beings can be so cruel to each other and crimes like this will always be selfish in my mind on the part of the perpetrator.  Ok, so it is human to be ungodly upset but to take another life? And then your own so you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions? And to leave the children you brought into this world orphaned? It’s hateful, wrong, tragic, and selfish.

I often think about Melinda’s kids and wonder where their lives have led them.  I remember her son in particular as a little boy with reddish hair at the bus stop.  Melinda’s kids were lucky because her parents were able to step in and take care of her children.  And they are amazing and lovely people.

I guess life’s big lesson here is once again we are reminded of how life can change in a blink of an eye. I wish for a day when senseless violence like this ebbs away from our existences.

Appreciate those who love you and hold you dear.  I know I do.

deadly decision (updated 6/4/15)

 UPDATE 6/4/2015

No winners here. This young woman, now pregnant with another child has been sentenced to prison for the death she caused with the accident.  This is in published media reports, so it is public knowledge.  I hope this woman can get through this.  I still feel the same about her prior behavior, but there are no winners in this case. At least this time family members could be seen with her.

Here is the coverage:

Meredith Williams-Earle (in black and pink dress) leaving courtroom with her husband, Timothy Earle (left), and her attorney Christian Hoey. (Laura McCrystal/Staff)
 On the morning of Aug. 6, 2013, the Lower Merion mother took a prescription sedative, swigged champagne, and filled a plastic cup with whiskey as she headed out the door.

Then she strapped her 2-year-old son into his loosely fastened car seat in the back of her Toyota Prius and set out to drive him to day care. At Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Williams-Earle sped through a stop sign and slammed into a flower delivery van.

Its 72-year-old driver died at the scene.

Now pregnant with her third child, Williams-Earle, 32, sat sobbing Tuesday in Montgomery County Court, apologizing and pleading for mercy…Judge William R. Carpenter said the death of Winston Staats could not be overlooked. Turning aside her requests to be free before her baby is born, he sentenced Williams-Earle to nine to 23 months.

The sentence brought to an end a tragic case that even perplexed the jury….The jury convicted her of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment – including endangering her own child…..and deadlocked on vehicular homicide.  By pleading guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter, she avoided a retrial.

FROM BEFORE:

meredith 3When Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who lives in Bryn Mawr near Historic Harriton House, got into her car on August 6th, she was above the legal limit for alcohol and had Ativan (Lorazepam) in her system.  Not only that, but she had one of her children in the car.

What happened next, no one except her would know for sure, but media reports (based upon police reports) indicate mweshe blew threw a stop sign at Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue and struck and killed an older man in a delivery van.   Main Line Media News reported she was going 42 miles per hour.

I know where those roads meet quite well.  I worked in one of the Tower Bridge Buildings in Conshohocken for a decade and that is how I traveled back and forth. I remember hearing about the accident on KYW News Radio in my car when I was buzzing around on August 6th and thinking “wow that sounds like it could be bad.” You see, initial radio reports were in the form of a traffic advisory, no mention of anything other than something like it being called a serious accident.

mwe4

I was also saddened to learn that not only was this 30 year old mother a meredith 2teacher, but a graduate of my alma mater The Shipley School as well (and no I have no clue who she is, and I do not believe she was even born when I graduated high school). So bright, a mom, lived in a nice area, so what went wrong? Because something did.

meredithI am asking because the media has been floating photos of her out on the Internet and well, there seems to have been a metamorphosis.  She went from being a pretty co-ed at UPenn and pretty young teacher to the mug shot above.  You don’t travel from point A to point C without a point B. (And I am sure some reader somewhere will roll up and give me grief about writing about this, unfortunately.)

Bryn Mawr woman charged with DUI in fatal crash that killed Conshohocken man

Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com

Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who grew up in Bryn Mawr, was trembling as she sat next to her lawyers at a preliminary hearing Thursday related to an accident that took the life of a 72-year-old flower shop delivery driver.

Williams-Earle, 30, who teaches at Interboro High School, was driving a Toyota Prius with her 2-year-old son in a car seat when she allegedly ran a stop sign and struck a van at 10:28 a.m. on Aug. 6 at the corner of Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office……..Officers spoke to Williams-Earle at the scene and smelled alcohol. Her eyes were glassy and her speech slightly slurred, police said…..Later…Williams-Earle allegedly admitted to Officer John Kuvik that she had taken Ativan the night before and felt dizzy that morning, according to the criminal complaint. …..a friend told her that alcohol reverses the effect of that sedative so she had drunk some leftover Champagne, the complaint said….defense lawyer Joseph Hylan argued that his client had lived in Lower Merion her entire life, was a graduate of The Shipley School….She lives with her husband, mother and two young children, on the 700 block of Harriton Rd.

DSC00662Ativan and champagne are a heck of a combination.  And the drug is prescribed for anxiety, correct? So I have to ask in the pill happy nation in which we live, who was monitoring this young mom and for what? What she one of the millions of women detrimentally affected by depression after having children? Was something going on regarding the home front? This is a woman who doesn’t appear to have had many brushes with the law so to speak (although I did find record of a speeding ticket in Radnor Township in 2011.)

Also something that bothers me is she did the “perp walk” caught on camera alone.

Where is her familial support?  Wouldn’t you think a young mom like this would have had either her husband or mother there?   A friend? A grandparent, aunt, uncle, someone?  The media reports that she grew up in Bryn Mawr and lives in that house currently with her husband, mother, and little kids.

NBC10 Philadelphia: Teacher Charged in Deadly Drunk Driving Crash         

By     Lauren DiSanto    |  Friday, Aug 30, 2013  |  Updated 6:16 AM EDT

A Delaware County teacher is charged in a drunk driving crash that killed a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran.

Meredith Williams-Earle, who teaches at the Interboro School District, was charged today with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence and recklessly endangering another person.

My initial reaction was to write a much more harsh post.  I have a huge problem with drinking and driving.   There are just too many tragedies.

But as I have read and seen the media coverage and read the comments left by people on websites with articles on this, the conclusion I come to in my opinion, is this is a woman in crisis. And these charges she is facing unless a county judge grants leniency is up to 3 years in jail.

My instincts (and I do not know her or even of her), is this is a person who would not survive jail.  And what good is justice if it creates more motherless children?

I have to think that this is a woman who needed help but no one was listening, or listening closely enough.  How do you live in a house with someone (again media reports other adults in her household, a husband and mother) and not know someone is in trouble or self-medicating?

Ativan is a high potency drug often used as a sedative. It is also  is used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  There could be any number of reasons she took it.  She could have been prescribed it or someone stupidly could have just given her some to take the edge off. We live in a nation of extreme pharmacology and well, pills are the new jellybean at times I think.

Sedatives are things I find both serious and scary.  If she was taking this drug for whatever reason she should not have been in a car, let alone left alone with the potential for pulling a Karen Ann Quinlan by mixing hard core prescription drugs with alcohol. And whomever this “friend” was who suggested she mix Ativan with champagne is a huge loser.   A friend is the person who says if you are dizzy let’s get you to a doctor, not have a drink and you can get in the car.

This young woman faces a boatload of charges (see docket sheet) –  two counts of homicide by vehicle, three DUI counts, recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding and improperly restraining a child.

This is what you call a real tragedy, boys and girls. A 72 year old man not wearing a seatbelt and everything that was going on with Meredith Williams-Earle.

Meredith Williams-Earle is a woman in crisis.  I don’t know why no one has addressed whatever is obviously going on with her, but I wish they would.  I do not think she is just some run of the mill gal who likes to play with drugs and alcohol.  I believe, right or wrong, that she needs serious help. And support from her family.  Because if she had help and more familial support or even familial awareness I am not sure she would have been behind the wheel the fateful day of August 6th, are you? But I wasn’t there, I don’t know, and can only guess and opine…as can all of us except immediate family.

There are no winners here, only quite a few take away lessons of life. This story makes me sad.